Sistani Aide: Americans Bomb both Sides
4 US GIs killed on Friday
Al-Sharq al-Awsat reports that Ahmad al-Safi, a representative of Grand Ayatollah Ali Sistani, preached a Friday prayers sermon in the mosque attached to the shrine of Imam Husayn, the revered martyred grandson of the Prophet. He said he hoped Saddam Hussein would be hanged in the Shiite holy city of Karbala. He also implied that the Sunni Arab neighborhood of Adhamiya and the Shiite neighborhood of Kathimiya in northern Baghdad were both taking incoming mortar fire not from one another, but from the United States military. (I am sorry to see a representative of Sistani fall into this kind of conspiracy theory. Sunni and Shiite forces are obviously lobbing mortar shells at one another. It isn’t the US military doing it.)
If Sistani thinks like al-Safi, the US is in even more trouble in Iraq than I had feared. And that is saying something.
In Kufa, Shaikh Jabir al-Khafaji, a representative of young Shiite nationalist Muqtada al-Sadr, preached the Friday prayers sermon. He demanded that Saddam be executed swiftly. He said he hoped other countries would not attempt to impose their law on Iraq in hopes of protecting Saddam. (He is referring to European countries that oppose the death penalty). The congregation chanted, “Execution, execution, is the least punishment of Saddam!”
Sadr al-Din Al-Qubanji of the Supreme Council for Islamic Revolution in Iraq preached at the Great Fatimah Mosque in Najaf. Of the threat of Sunni Arab blocs in parliament to resign and withdraw from politics if they continue to be shut out of the political process, he urged them to be more mature. He also slammed Harith al-Dari of the Association of Muslim Scholars, a hard line Sunni grouping. He said al-Dhari had declined to sign the Mecca Pact that forbade Sunnis to shed Shiite blood and vice versa.
Reuters reports political violence in Iraq on Friday; highlights:
BAGHDAD – Four American troops were killed in two separate incidents in Iraq, the military said on Friday.
BAGHDAD – Gunmen abducted a police lieutenant colonel in northern Baghdad, interior ministry sources said.
YUSUFIYA – Gunmen in four cars broke into two houses in Kwerisha village, near the town of Yusufiya 15 km (9 miles) south of Baghdad overnight, and abducted and killed 14 people, police said. The bodies were found dumped in a field.
TAL AFAR – A suicide car bomber hit an army checkpoint, killing a colonel and four soldiers, and wounding 17 people including 10 soldiers in Tal Afar, about 240 km (260 miles) northwest of Baghdad, police said.’
If 20% of Iraqi police recruits quit every year and 40% don’t show up to work, that leaves only 40% at their precinct houses or on the streets. If they supposedly have 177,000 trained police, they actually only have 70,000 or so. As for that “trained” part, I wouldn’t exactly take it to the bank.
Trita Parsi argues that former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld led the charge to reject Iran’s 2003 offer to cooperate with Washington and also sought to use the terrorist group, MEK, against Iran. Now, the US needs Iranian help in Iraq, and Parsi thinks the new SecDef, Robert Gates, has the experience and savvy to seek it. The only problem I see is that it may not be easy to just go back to the status quo ante of 2003. Iran has changed presidents and the relative influence of the militants in the Iranian Revolutionary Guards Corps and in the Basij and the Quds Brigade is therefore now greater. Rumsfeld may have cause us to miss an epochal chance, and because he ensured that reformers like former President Khatami were kept in the cold, he may have helped push Iran to the Right.
Louise Roug reports that Iraq’s decrepit hospital system is causing more citizens to die:
‘ Thousands of Iraqis are believed to have died from shortages of medicine, vital equipment and qualified doctors, despite an infusion of nearly half a billion dollars from U.S. coffers into this country’s healthcare system, Iraqi officials and American observers say. Raging sectarian violence as well as theft, corruption and mismanagement have drained health resources and made deliveries of supplies difficult. Exacerbating the crisis, hundreds of doctors have been killed, and thousands have fled Iraq. The child mortality rate, a key indicator of a nation’s health, has worsened since the U.S.-led invasion in 2003, according to Iraqi government figures. ‘
In addition, she says, Sunni Arabs allege that the Shiite-controlled Health Ministry systematically denies them drugs and treatment.
Italians have the opportunity on their tax forms to pay a little extra in taxes to support culture if they like. Silvio Berlusconi’s kleptocracy secretly usurped that money to pay for Italy’s part in the Iraq War!
Meditations on Veteran’s Day in a time of war, over at Tomdispatch.com.